26 May 2014

Review: THE AMBER FURY, Natalie Haynes

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 535 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus (February 6, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GW5DYA0
Synopsis (Amazon)

When you open up, who will you let in?

When Alex Morris loses her fiancé in dreadful circumstances, she moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past. Alex takes a job at a Pupil Referral Unit, which accepts the students excluded from other schools in the city. These are troubled, difficult kids and Alex is terrified of what she's taken on.

There is one class - a group of five teenagers - who intimidate Alex and every other teacher on The Unit. But with the help of the Greek tragedies she teaches, Alex gradually develops a rapport with them. Finding them enthralled by tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge, she even begins to worry that they are taking her lessons to heart, and that a whole new tragedy is being performed, right in front of her...

My Take

This book was chosen by a group member for our next read in our face to face group. It is not hard to understand why she chose it. The group is composed mostly of retired teacher librarians and English teachers, and I guess some of us have even taught drama at times. I guess we have even had challenging classes like the one Alex teaches at The Unit.

There are two murders in this story, the second in particular surrounded by mystery which the author maintains to the point that the reader doesn't even find out much about what has happened until about three quarters of the way through the book. In telling you that, I hope I am not revealing too much.

For our particular reading group there will be a number of interesting discussion points: the dynamics of the class and the problems of teaching students who have been excluded from other schools; the appropriateness of teaching violent Greek plays to teenagers; the problems of being stalked by one of your students; and inclusivity in the classroom and the problems of teaching a student who has a physical disability.

So I don't think this book will be everyone's cup of tea, but it was mine. There are few flat patches in the novel but the level of tension remains fairly high throughout. There is just enough of a puzzle about what has happened to keep the reader sorting facts and putting things in order.

My rating: 4.5

About the author (Fantastic Fiction)

Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. She appears on BBC Radio 4 as a presenter of documentaries and she is a reviewer of books, films, plays, television and art on Saturday Review and Front Row. She has judged the 2012 Orange Prize (now the Baileys Womens Prize for Fiction) and  judged the 2013 Man Booker Prize. She judged Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel in 2010.

Her first non-fiction book, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, was serialised by The Times in 2010. It has also been sold in the US, and translated into Greek, Spanish and Portuguese. Among many other favourable reviews, The Financial Times suggested you shouldn't read AC Grayling's The Good Book without reading The Ancient Guide first.Natalie was also a stand-up comedian for 12 years, and was the first woman ever to be nominated for the prestigious Perrier Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She retired in 2009 to spend more time writing. She delivered the Voltaire Lecture at Conway Hall in March 2011.


Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - This does sound like an unusual kind of novel. But it also sounds innovative. Even though 'innovative' doesn't always work, I like when authors try new things. Thanks

Bernadette said...

Just bought this one home from the library in preparation for book group - not sure you have convince me as I'm not a teacher or librarian :)


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